[ISN] The Paris Hilton hacking hoax

From: InfoSec News (isn@private)
Date: Mon Mar 14 2005 - 23:10:19 PST


James Gaskin

I know the mainstream media loves to report the Internet as the Wild
West of lawlessness and anarchy (I think because it hides their own
attempts to control content distribution over that same Internet). But
why do so many mainstream reporters go brain dead when talking about
Paris Hilton? To match her mental state?

Setup: Paris Hilton's cell phone address book got hacked, supposedly
through her provider's lax security. Private celebrity numbers spread
across the Internet. They were real celebrity numbers, not fake ones,
although some of the celebrities were, um, getting pretty stale. Can
you say MC Hammer?

Result: Do we blame her cell phone company, hackers, or roving bands
of Wild West Web Hooligans?

How about we blame Paris Hilton and recognize this is as the brazen
publicity stunt it is? Paris Hilton may be brain dead, but her PR
group overflows with genius. Let me explain, starting with some

Eighteen months ago a "private" sex tape of Paris Hilton, at 19 years
old and with a much older boyfriend, hit the Internet. She was
shocked, shocked, that such a breach of privacy could occur. A month
later, her show, The Simple Life, debuted on network TV.

Was Paris Hilton too embarrassed to promote her show while coyly
ignoring Internet porn questions? Absolutely not. Was the Fox Network
too embarrassed to splash her semi-naked porn-actress look all over
their network? Fox? Embarrassed? Not a bit. Athletes caught using
steroids will give back their salaries before Fox TV blushes.

The trick worked, and Paris Hilton wiggled and giggled The Simple Life
to cult hit status. Fox ordered a second season of The Simple Life.

During the long stretch between TV seasons, Paris Hilton felt ignored.  
Did she tutor poor children? No. Did she work in a soup kitchen? No.  
Did the news media go crazy looking for something so valuable I
thought the original copy of the Declaration of Independence had been
stolen? Absolutely. But it wasn't the Declaration or even the Hope
Diamond, it was Tinkerbelle, the Chihuahua Paris carries to events.  
Ransom notes were expected, but a few days later Paris remembered -
she left Tinkerbelle with her grandparents.

Two quick asides. First, how brain dead are her grandparents that they
didn't hear all the hubbub and call Paris on her famous cell phone?

Second, if celebrities want to impress me by carrying dogs around,
forget Chihuahuas. I'll bow to the first anorexic supermodel party
girl I see brandishing a Bassett Hound. Tote a Toy Poodle? Boring.  
Pack a Pit Bull? Kudos.

Now we're back to the present and the cell phone nonsense. The Simple
Life season two includes Paris Hilton wiggling and giggling in fine
half-dressed style, but nobody cares. Ratings are down. Civilization,
at least as defined by People magazine, may crumble.

Suddenly it's Paris Hilton, that poor hacking victim, all over the
news. Ratings trend up. People magazine starts a Celebrity Hacking
Victims column, including pictorials of hacked celebrities in swim
suits discussing their favorite diets. The Weekly World News prints
photographs proving Paris was hacked by Batboy and Bigfoot.

Did anybody look at this PR ploy critically? No. Anyone else report
stolen data when the provider was supposedly hacked and Paris Hilton's
address book copied? Nope. Paris can't keep track of a yappy dog, and
nobody asks where she leaves her cell phone during parties?

Surely the reports of Paris Hilton using the name Tinkerbelle as her
cell phone account password are wrong. That's a lot of letters for
Paris to remember. I'm betting her password is "me" as in M-E. That
seems to better fit her personality.

I say forget all this PR-initiated, headline-seeking nonsense, or at
least stop calling this a technology failure. It may be a failure, but
that failure is civilized discourse and news coverage of important

Let's go back to the way life was, when we hated cell phone companies
because of lousy service and botched billing. You know, back to
normal. And leave Paris Hilton to wander, half-dressed, around Fox TV.  
They deserve each other.

Bellua Cyber Security Asia 2005 -

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